|Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 23 April 2012|
Page 18 of 19
Ivy Bridge Final Thoughts
As a "tick"-cycle CPU, the Intel Core i7-3770K represents a refinement of the Sandy Bridge architecture rather than a whole new direction, and if our performance expectations were too high, perhaps it's Intel's fault for bragging about their 3D transistors and 22nm production process since May of 2011. Intel's said that these process advancements can be tuned to provide more performance in the same power envelope, or lower power in the same performance envelope, and with the initial Ivy Bridge CPUs, it's obvious they've decided that the latter is the way to go...at least for the time being. The performance difference between the stock-clocked 2600K and 3770K CPUs was less than 5% when averaged across all these benchmarks, as the table below shows:
Four percent isn't too exciting, and bear in mind this was in comparison with a Core i7-2600K rather than the incrementally faster 2700K. It's also likely that when overclocking, a current Sandy Bridge CPU would actually be faster.
Video performance fared better, although we can only directly compare DX10 performance and transcoding:
Just looking at gaming performance improvement, it's 55%, so HD4000 really does offer a significant performance boost to gamers...but even so, a three-year-old midrange video card like the Radeon HD5770 trounces it completely. Although impressive from a percentage improvement point of view, HD4000 graphics remains irrelevant to most gamers, Intel's promises of "Great Mainstream 3D Gaming" notwithstanding.
While Ivy Bridge power savings won't mean much for us desktop users-- a Core i7-3770K running at full load 24/7 for a year would save its user $20.51 compared to a Core i7-2700K assuming 13 cents per kilowatt-hour-- but that's a "desktop centric" point of view. Laptop computers passed desktop computers in unit sales in 2005, and the tablet/smartphone trend has taken an even bigger chunk out of the desktop market. The fact is that portable devices and servers in data centers drive the CPU market these days, and that's why Intel has emphasized low power and thermals over performance in Ivy Bridge. Ivy Bridge CPUs will let your spiify new Ultrabook run longer and save large companies huge amounts of money on data center power costs.
So while Ivy Bridge desktop CPUs are only an incremental advance over Sandy Bridge, the desktop isn't the market they were designed for. Still, consider that Ivy Bridge CPUs are still faster and cheaper than Sandy Bridge, which was already an amazingly fast processor. The tiny fraction of desktop users who need more computational power than Ivy Bridge can provide are already using either Sandy Bridge Extreme or multi-CPU Xeon systems.
I really would have liked to see more PCI-E lanes, but it's obvious that Intel's decided that 16 (CPU) + 8 (chipset) is all this market segment needs, and folks needing more can simply move to Socket LGA2011, or perhaps an AMD 990FX system. Still, vendors are stepping up to the plate with PLX-enabled motherboards that can compensate to some extent for the dearth of lanes.
Matched with a Cougar Point motherboard, Ivy Bridge considered as a package offers a nice set of advantages over Sandy Bridge: slightly better performance, better graphics, lower power draw, more versatile PCI-E allocation, native USB 3.0 ports, and so on. The fact that the Core i7-3770K's MSRP is slightly below existing Sandy Bridge CPUs is a bonus. If you're building a new system, there's no reason to go with a Sandy Bridge/Z68 setup unless you can find one at a good price. Conversely, if you already have a 2500K or higher Sandy Bridge system, there's no real reason to upgrade to Ivy Bridge.